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Evolved Virtual Creatures

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Evolved Virtual Creatures

Publication date 1994
This narrated computer animation shows results from a research project involving simulated Darwinian evolutions of virtual block creatures. A population of several hundred creatures is created within a supercomputer, and each creature is tested for their ability to perform a given task, such the ability to swim in a simulated water environment. The successful survive, and their virtual genes containing coded instructions for their growth, are copied, combined, and mutated to make offspring for a new population. The new creatures are again tested, and some may be improvements on their parents. As this cycle of variation and selection continues, creatures with more and more successful behaviors can emerge.

The creatures shown are results the final products from many independent simulations in which they were selected for swimming, walking, jumping, following, and competing for control of a green cube.


Software and Animation by Karl Sims
Narration by Eric Hansen, thanks to the Berlin VideoMath Festival
Thanks also to Gary Oberbrunner, Matt Fitzgibbon, and Lew Tucker

Contact Information For further technical information, see: For information on other works by Karl Sims visit:


Reviewer: markw2015 - - October 21, 2014
Subject: Not the last word
I just want to point out that there has been development on the ideas presented in this video, on several fronts. Check this guy's work:
Reviewer: FrederickEason - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 19, 2013
Subject: Re: "Apeism"
Apeism, if you understood anything about evolution, you'd understand that every single form is a "transitional" form: that is, the form is simply a transition between an earlier form and a later form. You're a "transitional" form between your parents and your children (if you have any, that is).

As for the video, it's amazing! I can't believe this was done in 1994! This is impressive even by today's standards.
Reviewer: Apeism is Stupid - favorite - January 31, 2012
Subject: Evolution is Imagination, not Observation
Empty words, drawings, charts, and these computer graphics are not observable evidences for evolution.

When all else fails, when the transitional fossils can't be found, just create some on a computer... right? A single fossilized creature in the fossil record (i.e. Archaeopteryx) doesn't prove it's a transitional fossil.
Reviewer: nchaumont - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 5, 2011
Subject: Why is this work still cutting edge?
@benjohn: It's incredible indeed that this work is still cutting edge in the field after more than 15 years, and here is a reason why:

It typically takes several years of involvement to write such a program. Most of the people who did it and published in the field spend their Master's or PhD doing it, and once the program works, it's time to graduate and move on. The program they developed is usually so complex that no student wants to continue the effort.

That's academia. In industry, you'd have to convince your boss to pay you and wait for 2-3 years before any result comes out... Also, there seem to be quite a long way between the successful completion of such a research project and an economically viable application.

In recent years, however, some software (FramSticks, Breve 3D, 3D creature evolution) have appeared that allow people to conduct similar experiments in a much shorter time. However, I don't know to which extent they allow one to reproduce Sim's results.
Reviewer: Shreya16 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 10, 2011
Subject: Interested
I am planning to do a similar thing for my Final year project in B Sc. comp science..but on 2d characters..i need to know exactly how to implement the evolutionary algorithm in coding...what exactly is the programming language for it?
Reviewer: archee3 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 6, 2010
Subject: inspiration
I have also seen this before I got inspirated to make a similar program.
Mine is evolved realtime. (thousands of tries in the background. while you are watching)
Reviewer: titlescreen - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 25, 2009
Subject: Geeks approve
The programmer in me probably enjoys this one a little more than other folks. Now, I don't work in AI, but this vid is encouraging me to do so.
Reviewer: benjohn - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 6, 2008
Subject: Stunning
I think the earlier reviews have failed to understand how cool this film is :-)

The creatures in this film weren't "designed" by a human. They were entirely evolved by a piece of software that simulates a physical universe within a computer.

To begin with, the world is populated with rondomly generated creatures. Over time they compete and the "fittest" at various tasks come to dominate their less able siblings, giving rise to the critters that you see swiming, walking, slithering, rolling, jumping and grabbing in front of you.

In the final part of the movie where creatures are seen competing, they are literally fighting for survival and continued membership of the gene pool.

As far as I know, this work still represents the cutting edge in the field, which is incredible and sad given that it is nearly 15 years old.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 8, 2008
Subject: Woot!
This was just strange and fascinating. Essentially all about creatures someone designed on a computer, walking and swimming. He then went on to have sort of a competion of these "creatures" fighting over a box. Very simple, but with the narration, strangely fascinating.
Reviewer: scapino - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 26, 2008
Subject: abstracted evolution
this is so cool. It reminds me of of Thomas Ray's independently evolving code in Tierra, a internet bio-diversity reserve.
Reviewer: umineko - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 28, 2005
Subject: at presentation
About two weeks ago.
In one presentation,
I know it.
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